City Gold Star beats traffic
Champion jockey Nunes delivers patient ride on hot favourite when all looks lost
At the 300m, those who punted City Gold Star down to $8 were probably having a rethink about the popular saying such short odds are better than bank interest.
But a brilliant piece of riding from Manoel Nunes inside the last furlong of Saturday’s $70,000 Class 3 (1,200m) would spare them a trip to the savings account-opening teller – at least for now.
The hot commodity looked in hot water, with Energy Baby’s jockey Louis-Philippe Beuzelin doing a fine job keeping him under lock and key in the home straight.
Nunes kept his calm, though, even if a touch of elbowing did not hurt in making his own luck.
As Energy Baby finally rolled off, most likely from fatigue, City Gold Star in his bright yellow gear punched through the gap. Dream Alliance (Bruno Queiroz), just as powerful a finisher, nearly caught up in the scramble to the line.
But City Gold Star held his ground to fall in by 3/4 lengths for a third success. Race-leader Asif (Wong Chin Chuen) held off the fast-closing Pacific Warrior (Vlad Duric) by a head to complete the podium finish, another ½-length away.
The winning time was a moderate 1min 10.03sec for the 1,200m on the short course.
While City Gold Star could have been one of the hard luck stories of the day, if not for Nunes’ Houdini act, Kok said he never panicked.
“I wasn’t really worried at the 300m when he was still behind so many horses,” said Kok.
“He’s got a very good turn of foot and the jockey on board was Nunes. I was confident that the moment he finds the gap, he will go through and finish the best.”
A decent last-start sixth to the unbeatable Lim’s Kosciuszko – who took the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1,600m) three races later – in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) in August was a formline that provided the other confidence booster.
“In the Lion City Cup, he did what he could. He still ran well in such company,” said Kok.
“I would have been disappointed if he ran badly in easier company today.”
In due course – at least in the next 13 months until racing closes – Kok is keen to revisit elite plans for the Written Tycoon five-year-old, potentially a top-notch horse in his yard one day.
There is only one caveat, though.
“I think he can still make it in those feature races, as long as Lim’s Kosciuszko is not around,” he said.
“He’s one of the better horses I’ve trained. I have to thank the owner for his support and patience.
“We’ll see how he goes through his ratings. For now, I’ll take it step by step and look for another Class 3 race for him.
“Our racing is finishing soon. Hopefully, I can win some stakes money for the owner.”
As Kranji’s perennial leading jockey, Nunes has the luxury of a wider pool of opportunities.
But, oddly, City Gold Star turned out to be his only winner on Saturday, with four seconds from seven other rides underlining the luckless day.
On 74 winners, he is still well clear of the rest, with Marc Lerner next best on 39 winners.
The day could have been worse had City Gold Star not found daylight in time, but just like Kok, Nunes knew it was only a matter of when to push the button.
“I had plenty of horse underneath me, but nowhere to go. I took my time, and was just waiting for room to come to me,” he said.
“Once the gap opened, I pressed the button and my horse responded very quickly.
“I know the other horse (Dream Alliance) from Tim (Fitzsimmons) came to my outside, but I had plenty of horse under me.
“Last time he had a very good run, finishing three lengths behind Lim’s Kosciuszko, who’s the best horse here.
“My horse is getting better and better, he’s more settled now. He’s a lovely horse, we’ll see how he goes later on.”